The Uniting Church has welcomed Victoria’s landmark step towards negotiating a treaty with the First Peoples and urged that the process continue.
On Thursday the Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Bill 2018 passed the Lower House of state parliament but still needs to pass the Upper House to become law.
It is the first time an Australian parliament has approved a framework to negotiate a treaty or treaties with the First Peoples.
Synod of Victoria and Tasmania Moderator Sharon Hollis said it was an important moment but there is much more to be done.
“The Uniting Church welcomes the passing of the Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Bill 2018 as a significant step towards the recognising the sovereignty of the First Peoples of Victoria,” she said.
“We commend the work of many Aboriginal people and organisations and the Treaty Commissioner in working towards this day. We will continue to work and pray for justice for First Peoples.”
Australia is the only Commonwealth country not to have signed a treaty with its indigenous peoples despite a promise to do so by former prime minister Bob Hawke almost 30 years ago.
In his final national message as his three-year term winds up, UCA President Stuart McMillan said that recognition of sovereignty and Treaty for First Peoples was “unfinished business”.
“I continue to invite Church members to consider what it would mean for the practices of our Church to honour First Peoples as sovereign in this land and what it means to stand with them in their pursuit of just terms treaties,” he said.
“The conversation continues and the movement for Treaty is stirring again.”